Recently, SNAICC provided a submission to the Federal Government based on consultation with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early years network about the impacts of COVID-19 on our children, families and services.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has exposed and exacerbated weaknesses within the early childhood education and care (ECEC) system that disproportionally impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families.
SNAICC acknowledges some relief measures have had promising results with services reporting increased engagement of some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families following the introduction of free child care and the removal of administrative barriers associated with accessing the Child Care Subsidy (CCS).
As we move into easing restrictions, SNAICC is concerned with how vulnerable families will be experiencing greater stress and economic hardship in the COVID-19 recovery period.
A fast return to ‘business as usual’ would be extremely detrimental – the design and readiness of the ECEC system to meet the needs of vulnerable families has never been more important.
SNAICC recommends a two-stage transition or recovery phase that:
- maintains free child care for all children until at least the end of September with upward revised provider payments to match increasing demand
- makes available at least 30 hours of free child care per week for all children until June 2021
- retains the increased number of 62 allowable absences until June 2021 to account for continuing uncertainty and unpredictable issues impacting attendance.
SNAICC also calls for an end to the Activity Test on a permanent basis, and reform measures that includes:
- provide at least 30 hours of free or 95% subsidised care per week for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children as an ongoing measure to Close the Gap in ECEC attendance and AEDC outcomes
- introduce an alternative community-focused funding program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ECEC services that recognises their unique role to provide cultural integrated early childhood development supports to children, families and communities
- establish a workforce and service development initiative for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early years services with a focus on funding local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traineeships and qualifications, inclusion of services within the National Quality Framework, and new service establishment in geographical areas where families have high vulnerabilities and low ECEC access.
Read the full submission with further information on the impacts on ECEC for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.